Average mileage

I passed the five thousand mile mark for the year sometime in July. That metric, for the metrically-inclined, is 8,046.72 kilometers. Making some generalized presumptions about the actual date my odometer might have crossed that threshold, the numbers average out to around 25 miles each day this year (or 40.234 kilometers.) No ideas, really, on what my average moving speed might have been, but I was spinning at about 72 gear inches for, probably, 95% of the time.

But I really don’t know when I reached this milestone – not the exact date, anyway – and I really don’t care.

For a long time I tracked my numbers with real determination. As a diabetic, I already chart my blood glucose levels twice each day and my nutritional intake, compulsively comparing both against each other, and against my levels of exercise. I know when I eat certain foods that my blood will spike if I don’t offset the situation with good, old-fashioned perspiration and cardio. I feel good about being enough in touch with my health to understand – almost intuitively at this point – what I need to do to feel and actually be healthy.

However, I stopped assiduously tracking my daily mileage this year, and my moving average stopped having any personal meaning for me a long time ago. Oh sure, if I crest a long, steep hill and fly to the bottom, and if I happen to have a computer on that bike that is charged and operational, I will out of curiosity check to see what my max speed was. But otherwise, the numbers aren’t terribly relevant.

Sometime in June, I think, the batteries died on my Garmin and I just never felt any urgency about swapping them out for a fresh set. After a few rides I stopped glancing down at the bars to check my speed and before long I stopped noticing the lime green computer at all. No more numbers to be checked.

See, they’re just numbers – and such things as numbers and averages and maximums can never tell the whole story. They don’t tell how it felt to bomb down a hill. Numbers never relate the narrative of how satisfying it is to build a classic bike back up from the ashes and take it out for an inaugural voyage – even if that’s just around the block. How about the times getting caught unprepared in a torrential downpour? Or the days when dreams of a long ride get dashed by the realities and demands of life?

I can guesstimate an average of 25 miles per day, because I have some sense of how far I ride, and I can read my odometer notes from before the computer batteries passed into the next world. Until a few minutes ago, I had no idea what the daily average might turn out to be – not until I typed the numbers into my calculator. The numbers, and the subsequent exercise, are merely the result of an interesting exercise. No more than that.

25 miles each day for 2012 is an average. Happily, not one single mile of those days was in any way average.


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